Website whitewash of Cornwall Job Centres is a bad joke for anyone using them

The facts: This graffiti was not painted outside a Cornwall Job Centre but it does accurately describe the way Universal Credit sufferers feel about it.

Vulnerable people in Cornwall were likely to be left reeling in disbelief at the glowing terms in which a web news service has described their local Job Centre.

Is this an outlier of the campaign that saw the free Metro newspaper run a huge – and hugely expensive to the taxpayer – propaganda campaign on Universal Credit over the summer?

The plan – before it was outed by This Site, among many others – was to present the propaganda as a series of news stories, with nothing to indicate that the Department for Work and Pensions was responsible.

It didn’t work.

And the backlash led to revelations that the DWP had been filling local news outlets with similar disinformation, intended to brainwash people into thinking that the overwhelming disaster we call Universal Credit is somehow a good thing.

Judge for yourself whether the article in Cornwall Live is news or propaganda. It states:

“The Jobcentre is the only government department you can come in off the street without an appointment.”

Really? This Writer cannot recall the last time I attended a Job Centre without an appointment – or accompanied anybody else who didn’t have one.

“Services users – known these days as customers rather than benefit seekers – have a set appointment to suit their needs and are met with smiling greeting staff. Waiting times are no more than a few minutes.”

Because “smiling” staff have an opportunity to cancel anybody’s claim if they are late by even a moment?

“Anyone coming through the doors will be met by staff on the ground floor who will help people sign up for Universal Credit or help them find employment but upstairs is another floor with capacity to increase the number of work coaches if required or host job fairs, events and seminars and courses.”

Are people claiming sickness or disability benefit required to attend appointments upstairs? And is there a lift?

“[Jamie Dean, Jobcentre customer service manager for Devon and Cornwall District, said:] ‘Universal Credit is so much better than the previous claim systems. It’s the Facebook of the benefits world. It moves it to the 21st century.'”

Does this mean it stops people seeing the information they want, while trying to take money off them at every opportunity?

“Mr Dean believes the fit-to-work agenda is one that has attracted the wrong kind of headlines when people who claimed to be invalidated off work were seen kite surfing in the Caribbean.”

This reinforces the false claim that people claiming sickness and disability benefits are “shirkers” who have nothing wrong with them.

“But not all disabilities are physical. Mental health, depression, stress can all affect a person’s ability to work.”

And mental illnesses are not taken into account when judging a person’s eligibility for sickness and/or disability benefits. There is no place for them on the computerised, tick-box, point-based system that has been used by the DWP – in the face of the evidence that it is wrong – for many years.

This nonsense goes on and on. Click on the link and scroll down, and you’ll see that it is full of disinformation about the Tory government’s broken-down system.

I have a doubt about this feature. I doubt that staff members at Cornwall Live had anything to do with it beyond putting it on a page.

It looks like an advertorial for the DWP in Cornwall, put together by the DWP to create a false impression of the work it carries out.

I see no information to show this.

It seems a referral to the Advertising Standards Authority may be in order.

Source: Inside the Cornwall Jobcentre and the impact of Universal Credit – Cornwall Live

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8 thoughts on “Website whitewash of Cornwall Job Centres is a bad joke for anyone using them

  1. Simon Cohen

    I was one that referred the last DWP propaganda in the Metro to the ASA -I remember getting an acknowledgement but have no recollection of any outcome unless it is still in process- do you know anything about that, Mike?

    This clearly sounds like more DWP drivel and the bit about the kit-surfing is another appalling stereotype worthy of the Daily Heil. Beyond disgusting and , dare I say it, proto-fascistic.

    During the massive assault on the poor, ill and vulnerable that brought condemnation on a number of occasions from the U.N. benefit fraud was reckoned to be 0.7 of one percent of claims.

  2. Simon Cohen

    Just checked my e-mails from the ASA and I received this response on July 17th:

    Thank you for your recent complaint about advertising in the Metro by the Department for Work and Pensions, relating to Universal Credit.

    We received 43 complaints about the ads, and your complaint has been added to our file. From the points that were raised we have identified four that we feel are likely to have the biggest impact on consumers. It is these four that we will be raising with the DWP:

    1. Whether the ads were obviously identifiable as marketing communications.

    2. Whether the claim “MYTH Universal Credit doesn’t work FACT It does. People move into work faster on Universal Credit than they did on the old system” was misleading and could be substantiated.

    3. Whether the claim “MYTH You have to wait 5 weeks to get any money on Universal Credit FACT If you need money, your jobcentre will urgently pay you an advance” was misleading and could be substantiated, and omitted significant restrictions that were likely to affect a person’s decision to apply for Universal Credit.

    4. Whether the claim “MYTH Universal Credit makes it harder to pay your rent on time FACT Your Jobcentre can give you an advance payment and pay rent directly to landlords” was misleading and could be substantiated, and omitted significant restrictions that were likely to affect a person’s decision to apply for Universal Credit.

    We shall let you know what we decide in due course.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      I think it might be worth re-contacting the ASA to find out why there has been no follow-up so far.

  3. trev

    Unbelievable. I hate the Jobcentre with a passion, it is the bane of my life. I personally think they should all be scrapped and shut down as they cost a fortune to run and serve no real purpose whatsoever other than to make Claimants’ lives thoroughly miserable. If there is a need for people to sign-on (which I believe is totally unnecessary) then why not online or by post?

    In my local Jobcentre you can turn up without an appointment to use the computers for jobsearch, though they are slow and often crash so I prefer to go to the Library instead as the computers there are a little better and it’s a more pleasant environment. I was in the jobcentre one day trying to do jobsearch when a fight broke out between two women and I was right in the middle of it!

    I can remember signing on at the old Unemployment Office prior to the existence of Jobcentres and it was much better, no computers, no ‘Work Coaches’ just dole clerks, and the only thing they asked was “have you done any work?”, “no”, “sign here”, and that was it.

  4. Jon Lisle-Summers

    I worked as an Employment Adviser in Jobcentres until Thatcher dismantled the best public employment service in the world. She had political debts to pay to private agencies who bunged her a few quid.
    Many years later, I needed benefits whilst I sought work. Talk about culture shock….
    Goons4Hire blocking the entrance, heavy questioning, lectures about not being more than five minutes early or late for my appointment….
    Stand there, sit there, don’t move, interviewer’s hostile questions, not allowed to refer to food bank, no advice on Housing Benefit, no training options,
    two phones (later removed) for contacting employers (for all clients), booking a phone (!), waiting for previous client to finish complicated call, directed to vacancy lecterns, later removed and replaced by ONE online pc which you had to book a day ahead with not enough time to achieve anything,
    not allowed to use the office photocopier (pay per copy at local shop),
    expected to rack up many applications per week on my laptop on the online vacancy “account”, most of which weren’t real jobs, never had a reply from anyone, completely useless.
    My mental health went down the drain.
    Repeat all of the above to be put on ESA…. Only pills and deep anger kept me alive.
    No money for seven weeks, sold everything to buy electric and gas….
    And that was five years ago before Universal Credit.
    No wonder the suicide rate is so high.

  5. Stu

    When a Government resorts to manipulative propoganda, legal loopholes and outright lies, calling those who “call them out” on it paranoid or liars it is no better than the dictatorships that it criticises (but secretly admires).

    Stop this right-wing manipulation in every way you can as it will destroy our decent, peace loving society all for the sake of greed and profit.

Comments are closed.